Behind the Design: Mariví Calvo, co-founder and creative director of LZF
Blurring the lines of sculpture and utility, LZF’s lighting forms are imaginative and rhythmic. Meet co-founder and creative director of LZF, Mariví Calvo, who has made a career combining artistic and avant-garde methods.
Spanish-born Calvo has an eclectic, creative background as an artist. In the early 1990s, while living in Paris, she wrote and developed a surrealist dance performance called The Kitchen Lady for which she designed the costumes and sets. In art exhibitions Calvo applied photography to canvas paintings; and at LZF she develops the wood veneer lamps, as well as the company’s exhibition stands and promotional campaigns.
In fact, LZF began, Calvo says, “as an exhibition, an event, an experiment.” She and Sandro Tothill co-founded LZF Lamps (originally Luzifer Lamps) in 1994 with the vision of designing and hand-making imaginative wood veneer lighting fixtures. “Sandro and I discovered the translucent nature of wood,” Calvo explains. “By setting the veneers on a light table, we realised what an ideal diffusing material wood made.” Enamoured by the transparent properties of wood, it became a core component of LZF lamps and some of its most emblematic pieces, such as the Gea pendant, Cosmos floor lamp and elaborate Cosmos chandelier, all designed by Calvo.
Calvo describes wood as an extraordinarily beautiful material, and part of centuries-old daily traditions “It is ancestral and close to us in a very natural way. It is involved in our life and our history, having always lived with us and been part of our everyday,” she says. For Calvo, wood is also a relaxing material and a pleasure to look at it. “Every piece of wood is different, and at the same time natural and pleasing to the senses.”
Calvo’s favourite LZF lamp is the Stitches collection of suspension lights, designed by Egbert-Jan Lam of Netherlands-based Burojet Design Studio. She is also particularly excited about the work of Isidro Ferrer, who created the fanciful wooden Funny Farm figures, and the life-size Elephant floor lamp and Koi suspension lamp for LZF.
In addition to developing lighting fixtures, Calvo also designs LZF’s exhibition stands and the company’s promotional campaigns. In both, she seeks to create an emotional connection between viewers and the LZF lamps. “We work to showcase the many possibilities that a product has, but always within an emotional context,” Calvo explains.
This approach can certainly be seen in the Telling Tales 2016 campaign, which received a Red Dot Award in Communication Design. She humanised each lamp by giving it a character—a reason for its existence and indispensable presence—and created stories centred on the people who inhabit the same space as the lamp, rather than focusing on the space itself. The hyperreal images by Masquespacio Studio had allusions to stories set in the 1950s, including Edward Hopper’s realist paintings and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, Rear Window. LZF also won a Red Dot Award in Communication Design in 2013 for the High Fidelity campaign.